How To: Smurfe’s Wine Kit Tutorial

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masta

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I got home today and found a couple presents under the carport. My January shipment of Wine Expert Limited Edition Kits had arrived. This month the treats were
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After a 10 minute brainstorming session with myself. I decided that I would start the Trio Blanca first. I only have one primary (for the moment) so I had to choose. I have made quite a few reds lately so I went with the white.
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I though I would throw together a little tutorial while I was at it. I actually typed all this out twice but when I went to spell check the first draft it disappeared and I lost about 2 hours of work. So this one is typed in word and pasted in to the text box. This forum really needs vBulletin forum software!
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So let’s get started. Look at your packages for any damage. If you ordered from George, there is little chance for any as he is a packaging genius. If there IS any damage, it was from the shipper. If all that looks good it is time to pull the big old box out from all those Styrofoam peanuts.
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Ok, you have it out let’s open the box and see whets inside. Look for a plastic bag with the ingredients in it.
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Open that bag and remove the directions, Read these directions thoroughly NOW before you go any further. Read the entire document Now, I am not joking, read it all.
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As I was reading, I realized I didn’t read, speak or write French. SO turn the directions over and you have English to read!
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Have you read all those directions? Make sure you do. With this kit and every other one you do. They can change and each variety can be different so don’t take that chance, Take a few minutes and read.
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Look at the top flap of the box. See the little peel off label? Peel that off and save it. I stick mine on the directions page. This is your kit identifier code. It tells when the kit was made as well as other information. If you have any problems with your kit, you will need this code so SAVE IT!
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OK, first thing we need to do is gather our equipment to make our wine. What do we need to gather? Read those directions and it will tell you. You need your primary bucket, sanitizer, a hydrometer, thermometer, Wine Thief, measuring cup, and a stirring device.
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I have gathered my primary fermentation equipment and have sanitized it. I use a no rinse One Step sanitizer. One note on sanitation. It is essential that your stuff be kept clean. We are not talking a living in a plastic bubble sterile environment but just keep stuff clean. Clean before you use it and when you are done and again the next time you use it, so on and so on. If you practice good cleanliness skill you should never have an issue. Here is my sanitized equipment ready to go.
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Ok, let’s make some wine. Take that sanitized primary bucket and add a couple quarts or liters of hot water. Open packet 1 (Bentonite) and slowly sprinkle it to the liquid as you stir to prevent any clumps from forming.
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While we are talking stirring here, lets cover this a little bit. We will be stirring a lot and I mean a WHOLE lot. Many purchase their equipment in a kit. Most kits come with a stirring spoon.
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Do yourself a favor if you can afford it and buy a premium kit that has a Mix-Stir device in it. These premier kits are not really premier. I consider them essential pieces of equipment. This is what you really need to stir with.
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So let’s get back to winemaking. As you sprinkle that packet #1 in, stir away.
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Remember, Spoon Bad!
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Mix-Stir Good!
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Sir this for at least 30 seconds to assure proper dispersement and that there are no clumps of Bentonite in the bucket.
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Now let’s look at that big box that has that big bag of juice in it. It is pretty heavy huh? How we going to safely pour that in our bucket? Let look a little closer to the box, see the punch out areas on the flaps on top? Punch them out along with the hand hold area on the bottom of the box.
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Now, grab the neck of that bag and pull it through the hole you punched out
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See the grooves in the neck? Slide then into the slot you punched out of the flap to secure the neck
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And close the flaps around it
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Now, notice that nice little Yellow cap. It looks easy enough to pop off there huh? Give it a try. Can’t get it off huh? Harder than it looks? Yes, it is, they are a real pain to get off without sloshing juice all over you wine making area. How do you get this off? Well, you need this.
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I don’t know why they don’t include this spanner with every kit. It is needed and should be in each kit. The labels should be as well but that is another story. So anyway, we need to pop this baby open. Move that box by your primary and let’s get at it. Remember, that box is heavy so lift safely; we don’t want any gimpy Vintners around here.
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When you have your box in place, take that Spanner and place it on the cap
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And POP that baby off there!
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Good job! That was pretty easy wasn’t it? Now, safely pick that box up by the punched our hand holds in the top flap and the bottom of the box
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And Lets Pour! Be careful; don’t splash it all over the place!
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Add a little hot water to that juice bag and give it a good shake to get all of the goodness out of it. Pour this in the bucket. The instructions say add a gallon to the juice bag but I normally add maybe a quart. I do this because I use as little as possible of my tap water as I have a well. I could boil the water but I don’t but you may wish to.
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Now, it is time to fill to the proper level with water. Notice this kit pretty well filled my bucket up. You fill to that line.
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Ok, we are at the full mark. Make sure you fill to 6 gallons, no more, no less. This juice is concentrated to this level. If you think adding less water will make better wine, think again. It will throw the chemistry off and produce an off product. FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS! You did read them right?
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Now we stir. Remember what I said about stirring? Well, we need to stir like hell for at least 30 seconds to get this Must mixed all up. The juice is now referred to as the “Must” so that’s what we will call it from now on.
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Ok, now we get to use some of our other cool toys. It is time to check the SG (Specific Gravity). Take your sanitized hydrometer and either drop it in the bucket or draw a sample with your sanitized Wine Thief and drop the hydrometer in it. Give the hydrometer a little spin while dropping it for a more accurate reading.
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What does it say? What is it supposed to read? Look in your directions. It will tell you. This kit was to read between 1.085 and 1.095. My reading was 1.090 so we are perfect. So you aren’t confused, you may believe the reading was 0.090 but if you look at the top of the Hydrometer you will see the 1.0 mark. All the numbers below are above this level so the 0.090 mark below the 1.0 level is actually 1.090. As the SG drops, the hydrometer will as well until the 1.0 level is below the surface of the Must.
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Now, drain the must back into the bucket
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Now it is time to add Oak if your kit came with it. Most whites don’t have oak but this one does. Open the packet and sprinkle it into the Must. Time to stir again!
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Once you have stirred the oak chips into the must, pull out your thermometer and let’s check the temperature. It needs to be between 65F and 75F for the yeast to have the proper environment to multiply and begin fermentation. Too cold and the yeast can’t get going, too warm and the yeast will burn themselves out and die off before fermentation is complete. You ferment to a particular SG reading so if you don’t reach that level, the wine will not be correct. SO let’s check that temp!
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Wow, it was on the money! 70F So let’s add the yeast!
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OK, now, if you have read the directions (You did correct?) you know that you WILL NOT STIR THE YEAST IN!
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So kit brands say to stir the yeast in, some don’t. Wine Expert Don’t! I made a couple Cellar Craft kits and they said you could if you wanted, I didn’t and it didn’t hurt a thing.
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Ok, we have our yeast pitched so now what? Well, we are about done with part 1. It is now time to cover the primary. This will be personal choice. You will hear many ways to do this. Some will snap the lid on and throw in an airlock, some will just lay the lid on top and others may cover with a towel or the like held in place by a rubber band.
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It is all personal choice. The thought is that the yeast needs oxygen to multiply and get working. If you stirred the Must well you have entered enough oxygen into the must to support the yeast. I personally snap the lid on and throw in an airlock with sanitizer in it.
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Well, that’s about it for the Primary Fermentation Portion of this tutorial. As the kit progresses, we will add the part 2 portion and so on and so on. Tuneback in 5-7 daysfor the further adventures of Vintners here at Fine Vine Wines as we will go to Step 2, Secondary Fermentation!



Hello all, it's been 6 days since we last worked on our kit. It is now time to check the Specific Gravity (SG) to see if we need to rack. So we all know what the first thing we do right? Read over our directions. Trust me, many of the kits have varied directions so we need to read them over again.





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As we read our directions it will tell us what the next step is and what equipment we will need. We are now at Step 2 for this kit. Make sure to read your directions carefully as there are differences in this step with different kits.


Many kits will say rack (siphon) the wine and lees (gunk in bottom) to a carboy and state the the lees are needed to aid in the clearing of the wine. The fining agents adhere to these solids and assist in clearing the wine.


Reading the directions of this kit, it says to rack the wine off the lees and leave as much sediment behind as possible.


So, what are we doing here. We are at step 2 which says to check the SG of the Must after 5-7 days. It should be at 1.010 or less. So how are we going to do this? We have a couple of choices here.


First we will gather our equipment and sanitize it. We will need our Hydrometer, a test jar and wine thief or a combo unit which I use. We will also need a Racking Cane and hose, a 6 Gallon Carboy with a rubber bung of proper size and an airlock. So we take all of these items and sanitize them with the sanitizer of choice and rinse after.


So now we will check our SG. We can do this a couple different ways. We can either just drop the sanitized hydrometer into the must in the bucket,





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Or, you can use your Wine Thief and Test Jar or the Fermtech Combo Wine thief/Test Jar and draw a sample of the Must and drop in your Hydrometer.





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Our SG is below 1.010. We are right at 1.000 so it is time to rack the must to a carboy. We have sanitized our carboy and racking cane,





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This racking cane is an Auto-Siphon racking cane that really speeds things up. You give it a pump or two and it will auto siphon your wine. You don't have to suck on the end of the hose to get a flow going.





Today, we are going to rack a different way. I bought a battery powered racking pump to try and review. It is called the Crownridge Winery Wine Transfer Pump.





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I just got it today so we will give it a try and see how it works. It has a filter paper that covers the tip. The reason I am going to use this, other that hey, it is a new toy is that after I re-read my directions, this wine is to be racked off the lees and we want to leave behind as much of the spent yeast that we can. So I am going to rack with this pump with a filter on it.





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After you have the must racked to the carboy, place a bung and airlock in place with some water or sanitizer solution in the airlock and clean up.


That is about it for this stage. Sorry there wasn't more to show today. I will once again stress, Please read those directions with each step. Today was an example of the variations a kit may have. The last kit I did I stirred the must all up with my Mix Stir device in my drill, racked the must, added the rest of my stabilizers and fining agents and waited for the wine to clear. We will do that in the next step though to aid in the clearing. So read those directions step by step.


I plan on making another tutorial in the near future with a Vintners Reserve kit to show some of the differences. This is also one of the most common kits for a first timer to try. When I do that tutorial, I will only use the tools that comes with the standard beginners equipment kit to show that it is still a breeze.


Look for more on this kit in about 10 days or so when we will begin the Stabilizing and Clearing portion of the wine making.


Hello All, sorry I am late putting this post up. I have had some issues with my camera so I went and got another one. I am a few days behind as well posting this up as I have been swamped this past week.


Today we are going to cover Step 3 from our instructions for our kit. We do remember the Instructions correct? It is that paper thingy you are to read every time you work with your kit.


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So lets look them over again to see what we need to do today!


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We are at the Stabilizing and Clearing section of our wine making journey. After 10 days of secondary fermentation we will check the Specific Gravity (SG) and verify a stable SG by obtaining a same reading 2 days in a row. Our target SG for this kit is 0.994-0.998 So lets sanitize that Wine Thief, test jarand Hydrometer and check the SG.


Go ahead and sanitize a spoon, a Pyrex measuring cup or even a coffee cup and you Mix Stir device if you have one. You do have one correct? Good, I am glad you listened to me in the beginning and called George to get you one if you didn't have one on hand cause today is when it's real value comes into play!


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We are looking good at 0.994 for the 2nd day in a row so it is time to get to Step 3 in our instructions. Find the rest of those little packets that were in the little zip-lock baggie thing. Those things numbered 2, 3 and 4.


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Take that sanitized measuring cup and dump in the packets 2 and 3. Add a little warm water and stir with that sanitized spoon until it is all dissolved. Take care not to take too big a whiff of this mixture because the Metabisulfate will put off a little gas that will burn the nose. These 2 chemicals will stabilize the wine and prohibit further fermentation.


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Now, take that stuff and pour it carefully into the Carboy.


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Shoo the Cat away and lets go on!


Now we stir. Remember when I told you it really was a bad idea to stir with the spoon correct?


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Today our stirring is the most important stirring we are going to do. We are going to stir off the CO2 and degass our wine. This is going to take so much stirring that you will truly feel that your arm WILL fall off and you will think you will need Rotator Cuff Surgery after.


So lets take that Mix Stir device and our drill and stir the Wine. We need to mix the Metabisulfate and Sorbate into the wine as well as disperse the gas from the wine. Stir for at least 2 minutes. Make sure to stir all the Lees (GUNK) in the bottom of the carboy. Believe it or not, we need that gunk to aid in clearing the wine. Watch out for the FOAM, there will be quite a bit so be prepared!


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OK, we have that stuff all mixed in and we have stirred for a bit to degass. Lets add the Clearing agent to the wine now. Take that last packet (#4) and snip a corner off of it and carefully pour it into the Carboy.


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Now we stir MORE! Stir at least 2 minutes but preferably longer. We need to mix the wine well to disperse the clearing agent and continue to expel the CO2 gas. After a while, the foaming will subside. It probably WILL NOT totally go away though. Foam does not necessarily mean gas in the wine, Remember that you are whipping the wine pretty good with the Mix Stir so you have entered some oxygen as well into the wine. We do need to be careful though and keep as much oxygen away from the wine as we can but don't worry too much, we need to get that gas out of it.


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So we have stirred the crap out of the wine and have it degassed it is time to top up the carboy and seal her back up till the next step. You can either use some water to top up or a "like" wine. Many feel that water will dilute the wine but the manufacturer takes into account that you will be adding water when they make the juice concentration so don't stress out about it. I happen to have some white wine here so I am going to top with it.


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Fill the carboy to about an inch below the bung and put an airlock in place and clean up your equipment cause we are done for the day. We will now let the wine clear at least 8 days before the next step comes around.


So, I will see you herein a few days.The next step will be racking and clarification so we will see you then!


Hello friends, we are finally going to finish our tutorial. I apologize for the delay in finishing but as you all may have read I had issues with my corker so I was unable to finish my tutorial. I have started and finished 2 more kits since this one was actually ready to bottle. The original kit we started with was one of the 2005 Wine Expert Limited Edition kits, the CALIFORNIA LAKE COUNTY TRIO BLANCA.


The rest of this tutorial is going to look a little weird as I took up where I left off with this kit with one of the newer made kits, the 2005 WE LECHILEAN MAIPO VALLEY CARMENÈRE / CABERNET SAUVIGNON and the CALIFORNIA AMADOR COUNTY PETITE SIRAH ZINFANDEL. I do have a few pics though of the original batch:


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As you can see it finished quite nice. Crystal clear and luscious. What comes next can differ for you as this is the time a little different tactics will come into play.


SO what do we do next? Well, as you know, pull out those directions and read the next steps carefully as you have all the other steps. I even re-read the old steps up to where I am at now and then continue to put it all into perspective.


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After you do a few kits you are going to see that the directions are different with different kits and at times you will catch errors. I found an error in one of my kits I started a couple days ago. I mention this in reference to adding extra sulfite's. Some kits say to add it when you perform your final racking for clarification (Step 4) and some say to add it right prior to bottling.As I re-read my directions I noticed that this kits directions said to add it at the final racking. I didn't do this but since this is an optional step, no biggie.


I did add 1/4 tsp dissolved in some water at bottling though as I always do. This is the same stuff that was in Packet # 2 that you added to stabilize your wine. You have to buy extra to do this step. A 2-3 oz. packet will last quite a while as you use it 1/4 tsp at a time. Some will buy large quantities and use it for sanitation as well as preservative.It will allow your wine to age longer and not oxidize as soon. This is only needed if you feel your wine will be in the bottle over a year or so. If you are making a kit you will drink up fast, (like an Island Mist kit)don't worry about it.


So lets get to the final steps. We have racked the wine and stabilized it and now it is clear and ready to bottle. Lets get our bottles ready first. Drag out your stock of empties and sort out 30 like bottles. This is where I am going to jump around a bit. These pics were taken when I bottled other kits and is not the original kit. So bear with me. The actual kit isn't as important as the procedures.


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After we have found our bottles we want to use, we need to clean and sanitize them. I normally fill one of my sinks with cleaner or sanitizer, which ever it is and dip the bottles in the solution. I then rinse the exterior of the bottle under running water in the other sink.


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This next picture isn't as good as I hoped it would be. My photographer didn't zoom in like I would have. I wanted to show you the bottle sanitizer up close. This tool is a bowl like contraption that you pour sanitizer in. There is a spout on it that is spring loaded. You place a bottle over the spout and push down. It act like a pump and squirts the sanitizer up inside the bottle. Give it 2-3 squirts and then place you bottle on the bottle tree to drain. That is the thing to my right with all the bottles on it.


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After all of your bottles are sanitized we are ready to bottle our wine. Here is the next part where individual preference comes into play. As you an see the wine is quite clear and is ready to bottle. Your instructions may say to filter the wine if you choose to.


I personally filter all of my wines for peace of mind after I sucked up sediment in my very first kit. Is it necessary? No, not at all. you will read in the forums where some never filter any of their wines or may only filter their whites. I filter all of mine as I own a filter machine.


This is a Mini-Jet filter. I am not going to go into much detail as we have a nice Mini-Jet tutorial here already. I just thought I would show the steps as I filtered the wine. Here are the filter pads you put in the Mini-Jet. You must soak them in water for a minute or so prior to placing them in the machine. These filter pads come in 3 different stages, I use the middle rated pads. It will filter and polish the wine but not strip anything out of it.


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When I bottle, I normally transfer the wine to my sanitizedprimary bucket (bottling bucket) for the process. Since I always filter I have to transfer it anyway so as the bucket is easier to clean, this is what I use. If you are not filtering, you can bottle right out of your carboy.


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Yes, I even filter my Red wines as well


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So now we have the wine filtered and ready to bottle. We will now set up our bottle filler. This contraption creates a siphon and flows into our bottle we are filling. Once the bottle is full it will switch to another bottle as not to over flow the bottle we are filling. You can stop the overflow to the other bottle and this is what I do. The "spare" bottle is just that, a spare.


I normally don't even bottle any overflow wine and just drink it when I am finished bottling. There is never more than a glass anyway. I don't bottle this as if you aren't paying attention, you will introduce a lot of oxygen into the bottle as there is airflow for the siphon of the bottle you are filling. I guess you just have to see and hear it bubble to know what I am talking about. The bottle to the left is the one I am filling. The olive colored bottle to the right is my over flow.


You will need to practice a bit with this device to get it set right. I would suggest using your bucket with water in it and a few bottles to practice with this tool prior to bottling your wine. You need to assure it is set so the wine fills to about 1/2" to 1" below the cork. You don't want too much head space as this will introduce oxidation to your wine.


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If you notice that blue bowl on the sink, that is my corks that I have rinsed and sanitized. The bowl has some sanitizer in it and the corks just sit in it till I cork them. You do not have to soak corks overnight like some sites will say. Just rinse them and insert them. Being wet makes them seat better.


So now we are ready to cork that bottle. I am using an Italian floor corker. Do your self a favor. Get a floor corker. There are two popular, the Italian and the Portuguese. Either will do you fine. I like the Italian as it has all steel and brass parts and is taller but the Portuguese is fine as well. Either one will make you happy.


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SO we have the bottle set in place. You will see the seat base and on the top plate there is an indentation for the lip of the bottle to line up with. So lets drop in a cork


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Give the handle a pull


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There you have it. Now repeat this about 30 times and you are done. Your wine is bottled and ready to age. Place the bottles upright for a couple of days to assure the corks seat before you lay the bottles on their side. You lay the bottles on their side to keep the corks moist. If you use synthetic corks, you can store upright.


Now it is time to clean everything up real good and after it is dried, put it away. You don't really have to sanitize after you use it but you can if it makes you feel more secure. I just clean real good with a cleaner that might or might not be a sanitizer, rinse it off, let it dry and store it away. When I am ready to use again, I use the cleaner again and now spray the surface down with a spray bottle with Sodium Metabisufate in it.


So here we have 59 bottles of wine I bottled. I did 2 kits in a row today as I was behind and both were ready. Since I got my corker replaced I had absolutely no issues and every bottle corked perfectly.


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So there you have it. We have went through the steps to make a kit wine. As you can see it is not tough at all. If you read and follow your directions and practice good cleaning and sanitation practices you wine should be perfect. Practice patients and don't rush anything. Time is your friend in the wine making world. I actually feel blessed that I am always on the go and am always a few days behind each step.


After you have made a few kits it will all be 2nd nature to you but don't forget to read the directions for every kit. It is good education as well as a good refresher. You never know to, they may of changed something or revised the directions to a better procedure. Just read them. It only takes a few moments and will assist in guaranteeing your success.


Once again, I apologize for taking so long to post all of this. I also apologize for not being as detailed as I originally hoped to be but I really want you to read your directions and not follow "MY" directions. I just wanted to share my passion with any newbie and assist in showing undecided new winemakers just how easy it is to make your own wine at home.


If you follow everything as stated, you will produce a wine that is better than those you buy in the store as long as you practice patients and let the wine properly age. Don't really consider the wine ready to drink until it has been in the bottle a year. Some kits though will mature quicker so it all depends on what you are making but even the quick kits will mature with age and only be better.


So thanks for taking the time to read allof this and I hoped you enjoyed it. I had a blast producing it and hope soon I can make a more organized tutorial that is more detailed that can be downloaded in a PDF format for easy reference.So long now, I need to check my Kumquat Mead to see if it is ready to bottle as well. Looks like it is to me! This stuff is so sweet it would kill a diabetic on the spot!
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Thanks!


Smurfe
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<O:p></O:p>Edited by: masta
 

acallan921

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Thanks!! I have been dragging my feet in making my first kit because I am intimidated!! This will help so much!! (And yes the first thing I will do is read the instructions!!) 😬😬
 

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